Are Rats Good Pets?
Looking for information about rats and wondering if they make good pets? I'll go over the pros and cons of owning a rat to help you make your decision.
As a previous rat owner, I'll share my experiences with you and open the discussion doors in case you have any questions. It's best to have as much information as possible to help you make an informed decision.
The photo of this cute rat is by Charles Jeffrey Danoff from Flickr under Creative Commons Licensing. Ready to learn more?
Rats as Pets
Often, when people think of rats, they think of filthy, disease ridden creatures that cause nothing but property damage. Right? Well, if you're looking at wild rats, this can hold true. After all, they are natural scavengers who will eat just about anything and can carry a variety of diseases.
However, it's a much different story when it comes to domestic rats. Domestic rats are clean, loving and social animals who love to be held and given attention. They can make wonderful pets.
There are a few things to consider when getting a rat. Even though you may have a certain amount of time to spend with it, being that rats are so social, it's best to get two so your rats always have company. Be sure to get two same sex rats or, you know happens. :-)
Also, don't plan on keeping them in a cage all the time. Rats love to come out and play and explore. Caution should be taken if you have other animals in the home such as cats. A rat could make a tasty meal for one of them.
Rat image by Rathater at Wikimedia Commons.
Although some people blame rats for the spread of the Bubonic Plague, it was actually the fleas on the rats who caused the disease.
Pet Rats For Sale
Rats can be purchased at pet chains such as PetSmart or Petco. You can also purchase them from breeders.
Personally, I would look into any local pet rescue groups including the SPCA or Humane Society as there are times they have rats who need homes.
If you have an online Freecycle group in your area, you might check that out as well. Sometimes, pet owners need to find homes for their pets for one reason or another. The cost is free and the pet owner is happy to know their pet is going to a new good home.
Image by Robin Stjerndorff at Wikimedia Commons.
This inspirational video is of rescued baby rats who had been dumped in a shoebox.
How Long Do Rats Live?
Generally speaking, the average rat will live for 2-3 years. In my case, both of my rats developed tumors. According to the vet, (and I'm not saying whether this is true or not, merely what the vet said,) there were rats that were bred to have tumors in order to scientifically study them.
With such a short lifespan, this is something to take into consideration, especially if you have kids. The loss of a pet can be truly devastating.
White rat image by Janet Stephens and uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by Stevenfruitsmaak.
Pet Rat Guide
You'll need something to keep your rat in. I recommend a wire cage that has at least two levels with ramps so the rat has plenty of room.
As far as litter goes, I avoid any type of wood type shaving. Instead I use Carefresh, which absorbs quickly and has a low dust factor.
For food, get some rat pellets and add fresh fruit and vegetable to it. Suggested food items include apples, carrots, strawberries and broccoli .
As rats teeth continuously grow, be sure to have some kind of a wooden chew toy for your pet to gnaw on and you might also add a couple of rat toys to the cage.
Image by Waldemar Zboralski at Wikimedia Commons.
This book is written by Debbie Ducommun, an expert on rats, who is affectionately known as The Rat Lady.
If you plan to have a rat or rats, why not train them? Not only can you teach your rats tricks, this book will help you to understand rat behavior.
To go back to the original question as to, "Are rats good pets?" the overall answer is yes. These little guys are clean, intelligent, lovable and playful.
I still recommend if you are planning to get one, instead get two as they love company and attention.
The comment box below is open, so please feel free to ask questions or share your experiences.
Image by Ectopistes666 at Wikimedia Commons.
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